Phytoremediation:  Growing Hemp to Cleanse Soil and Air
Information compiled by J. Lynn Byers, December 2015 (sources:  Wikipedia, CannaSystems, Intechopen)

This is the real reason this Cannabis Facts page was created.  Hemp is an amazing plant many uses but one use in particular is important to share with others:  phytoremediation.

From Wikipedia:  "Phytoremediation (from Ancient Greek φυτο (phyto), meaning "plant", and Latin remedium, meaning "restoring balance") describes the treatment of environmental problems (bioremediation) through the use of plants that mitigate the environmental problem without the need to excavate the contaminant material and dispose of it elsewhere.Phytoremediation is a cost-effective plant-based approach to remediation that takes advantage of the ability of plants to concentrate elements and compounds from the environment and to metabolize various molecules in their tissues.

"Toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants are the major targets for phytoremediation. Knowledge of the physiological and molecular mechanisms of phytoremediation began to emerge in recent years together with biological and engineering strategies designed to optimize and improve phytoremediation. In addition, several field trials confirmed the feasibility of using plants for environmental cleanup."

This process that the hemp plant performs is most likely known well by only a handful of advocates...and I would venture to say, not known at all by most Americans...not even ones who are "into" the green movement.  I'd never heard about it and when I first learned, I was shocked to realize that in all my years (nearly 20 years now) of research about health, natural healing, toxic chemicals, green living, energy alternatives and the ecology I never ONCE ran across the information about industrial hemp farming being able to change the atmosphere and cleanse the soil!  Not once.  It seems you have to be a cannabis advocate to know and I'm going to venture a guess that maybe only 1 or 2% of people in the U.S. have clue about the industrial and agricultural benefits of hemp...let alone the ecological aspects.  I think a lot more people would get on board if they knew the truth so please share this information.

The following is from a book that the authors made open share; the information is free to use and disseminate as long as you credit the authors and link back to their book (in their specific format below.)  You can also download the PDF at Intechopen.

"Contaminated soils and residues can be remediated by various methods, such as: removal, isolation, incineration, solidification/stabilization, vitrification, thermal treatment, solvent extraction, chemical oxidation, etc.

These methods have the disadvantage of being very expensive and in some cases, they involve the movement of contaminated materials to treatment sites thus, adding risks of secondary contamination.

Therefore, currently preference is being given to in situ methods that are less environmentally disruptive and more economical. In this context, biotechnology offers phytoremediation techniques as a suitable alternative.

"Phytoremediation can be understood as the use of plants (trees, shrubs, grasses and aquatic plants) and their associated microorganisms in order to remove, degrade or isolate toxic substances from the environment..."

Phytoremediation of Soils Contaminated with Metals and Metalloids at Mining Areas: Potential of Native Flora; Paulo J.C. Favas, João Pratas, Mayank Varun, Rohan D’Souza and Manoj S. Paul (2014). Phytoremediation of Soils Contaminated with Metals and Metalloids at Mining Areas: Potential of Native Flora, Environmental Risk Assessment of Soil Contamination, Dr. Maria C. Hernandez Soriano (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-1235-8, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/57469. Available from: Intechopen Books

This is part of an article written by CannaSystems Founder Bruce Ryan; I've edited it to only include the parts about Cannabis Phytoremediaton:

"Phytoremediation...first appeared on my radar after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. An article in a science journal stated that an un-named plant was being used to draw radioactive particles out of the soil to clean areas around the site. Turns out they were using cannabis for it's ability to reach deep into the ground and collect heavy metals in the foliage above for disposal. Very interesting. 

"What is even far more fascinating is the idea that cannabis can be applied to phytoremediation of the atmosphere as well. Cannabis is an ancient species that evolved when the planet was running at 1200ppm CO2 levels. This means that it draws carbon dioxide out of the air at massive rate. Cannabis can use CO2 at 3x atmospheric levels. It exhales oxygen. Plants simply grows larger & faster as the CO2 levels rise. The process stores up to 30% of the entire bio-mass in the soil in the form of roots.

"Using the fiber & seed from the crop also captures CO2. Better yet, cannabis can be grown on marginal or "ruined" farmland where other crops do not grow very well. Remember the heavy metals mentioned above? Cannabis can grow where the land has been over farmed, over fertilized and the top soil ruined. This stuff will grow in drought conditions where all else fails or requires heavy irrigation.

"Applied to the critical problem of rising global CO2 levels, cannabis is a natural solution. Literally atmospheric phytoremediation on a global scale. There is nothing quite like it. Bamboo grows quickly in tropical environments but not so well in temperate zones. Algae may come close, but it's not nearly as much fun. The ability to sequester gigatons of carbon dioxide simply and easily ~ at a low cost ~ sounds like a winner, right?

"Farmers from the entire world community could begin tomorrow. Everyone with a small plot of land up to vast hectares of the prairies could easily grow cannabis. Profitable as well. The industrial benefits & products might even outweigh the objective of capturing CO2. Climate change folks talk about reducing emissions or a fictional "carbon tax". Fewer yet have suggested capturing the carbon."  View the full article on LinkedIn


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